Somalia, officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic, is located on the east coast of Africa between the Gulf of ‘Aden on the north and the Indian Ocean on the east and has the longest coastline in Africa. Together with Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti it is often referred to as the Horn of Africa because of its resemblance on the map to a rhinoceros’s horn. It is bordered by Djibouti on the northwest, Kenya on its southwest, the Gulf of ‘Aden with Yemen on its north, the Indian Ocean on its East and Ethiopia on the west.
The current situation
The Somali people have suffered from prolonged oppression and violence at the hands of their fellow Somalis. They have lived in difficult and harsh conditions under both democratic and military regimes. During the democratic era (1960-1969), independence and newly established state institutions failed to meet people’s expectations. Poverty increased and security deteriorated. Moreover, corruption, nepotism and cronyism characterized state institutions. During the last decade or so, but especially during the last year and a half, Somalia has become one of the main battlefields in the US global “war on terror”, together with Afghanistan and Iraq. The situation has been further complicated by a chaotic situation prevailing in the country, caused by sixteen long and devastating years of civil war between various Somali clans and subclans, while the rival regional powers – Ethiopia and Eritrea – have tended to take different sides and aid rival clans and sub-clans fighting against each Other. Thus, the Somali civil war has developed into a regional and global conflict, which involves many other players, other than those mentioned above, including: al-Qa’ida, Yemen, Sudan, Egypt, IGAD, the African Union, the Arab League, and the UN. Throughout its history, Somalia has witnessed a lot of local conflicts between rival clans and sub-clans as well as some major regional conflicts with Ethiopia. The common characteristic of all those major conflicts has been its development into regional conflicts between Ethiopia and the Arab world, while some of them have even developed into religious and global conflicts between Christians and Muslims. Yet, this current Somali conflict is different from all past Somali conflicts in the numbers of regional, continental, and global players involved; the unprecedented active involvement of foreign players in Somali local affairs; and the immediate local, regional, and global circumstances at hand as well as the most important role radical Islam has played in the conflict.
Big Events in 2014
2014 March – UN envoy to Somalia Nicholas Kay says a campaign by AU and Somali troops against al-Shabab strongholds is having success.
2014 May – Al-Shabab says it carried out a bomb attack on a restaurant in Djibouti, saying the country is used as a launch pad to strike Muslims.
2014 June – US and EU officials meet President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to discuss the deteriorating political situation in Somalia. They meet on a warship off Mogadishu for security reasons.
2014 July- August Al-Shabab claims two attacks on the Kenyan coast which kill more than 60, saying operations against Kenya would continue.
2014 September – Al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane killed in US drone strike. Government offers 2 million dollar bounty for his successor, Ahmad Omar.
2014 October – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visits, says Somalia is facing famine.
2014 November – Government launches country’s first postal service in more than two decades. Mogadishu’s first ever cash withdrawal machine installed in a hotel.
2014 November-December – Al Shabab carry out mass murders in the north-east Kenya, including on a bus and a camp of quarry workers.
2014 December-The U.S. military said that an airstrike had targeted a senior Al-shabaab militant leader.
In Sept. 2014
The first known US attack in Somalia for more than seven months killed the group’s leader, Ahmed Godane (aka Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr or Ahmed Abdi Aw Mohamed). US drones and conventional aircraft, flown by Special Forces operatives from JSOC, targeted an encampment and vehicles in the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia. At least six people were reportedly killed in the attack. The day after the attack, al Shabaab spokesman Abu Mohamed confirmed Godane, right, was in the convoy when the attack hit. And a US official told Reuters: “We don’t know that he’s dead. But he was the target.” Godane’s death was eventually confirmed on September 5. He was the specific target, according to a Pentagon spokesman though the attack reportedly killed a group of senior al Shabaab figures. Al Shabaab named a successor two days after the US government confirmed Godane was dead. Ahmed Omar was elected unanimously, according to a video message sent to al Jazeera. The Somali government subsequently put a $3m reward out for Ahmed Omar. Godane was in overall command of the attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, in 2013. The president of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta thanked the US for killing Godane: “We owe the United States and its soldiers our heartfelt thanks for bringing an end to Godane’s career of death and destruction and finally allowing us to begin our healing process.”
In Dec. 2014
The U.S. military said that an airstrike had targeted a senior leader of the al Shabaab militant group. Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency later identified the target as Al-shabaab chief of inelegance, known as Abdishakur, though the U.S. did not immediately offer official confirmation of his death. An anonymous U.S. official later told Reuters that Abdishakur and one other militant had died. The previous week a senior al Shabaab figure also described as the group’s head of intelligence gave him up to Somali authorities. The US had reportedly offered a $3m reward for information leading to his capture. As U.S. defense official told CNN that Monday’s strike was carried out by a drone strike.